WFMW: Your Old Magazines

The last couple of years, I’ve subscribed to several magazine subscriptions because of great Amazon alerts, Swabucks and dirt-cheap deals. I got in the habit of saving a few of my favorite issues, but tossing the rest.

In the last few months, I’ve found many uses for my old magazines and wanted to share them with you:

Used magazines work for me!


Vintage Friends {Giveaway}

*Updated with Winner*

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2011-08-15 14:16:20 UTC

Congrats to Julie Frank! Check your inbox!


I think my favorite aspect of blogging are the connections and friends I’ve made. I’m amazed at how well I know people I’ve never met. Ya know?

And it’s even more exceptional to become friends– partners, really, with businesses that support my blog which supports Mercy House and in return I get to talk about their amazing products.

It’s just a win-win-win.

FYI: that’s a lot of winning!

One of those companies is The Vintage Pearl. They’ve sponsored this blog for a very long time and I’ve done more giveaways than I can count. They are huge supporters of our maternity home, Mercy House and just good friends.

When I was returning to Kenya, I wanted to take something extra special to Maureen and her mom, to remember the tragic family deaths they suffered this Spring. I knew exactly who I should talk to.

The Vintage Pearl created and donated two of these unique (breath-taking) necklaces that are now worn around the necks of two women across the world whom I love very much:

The Vintage Pearl is so much more than a great jewelry shop, they are talented people who help us savor sacred moments in our lives….they give back to the community, to the world and I can’t recommend them enough.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

I just love this quote (it’s about tea, of course)-

And this sweet necklace stores a secret love message!

Today, they are generously offering a reader a $50 gift certificate! Please visit their new blog and Facebook page.

Leave a comment below with what  you’d like to win.

Giveaway ends Thursday.

And Now, I’d Like to Talk About Rodents

My kids love animals. Pets, to be precise.

They would have every species living in our home if they were allowed. They are not allowed. I’m not THAT mom. Much to their disappointment.

We have a dog, which is technically the kids but she loves me (secret: I love her, too). After Hurricane Ike devastated our part of Texas a few years ago, we adopted a cat (named Ike) because hundreds were going to be destroyed. He’s technically theirs too, but loves my hubby.

So, we quenched their pet-loving obsession with fish a few years ago.

Turns out fish are a temporary fix.

The kids have been campaigning HARD for hamsters for several years now. I don’t do rodents, so the answer has been obvious. But they persisted. My oldest started wearing me down by saving her money, talking about being responsible, growing up, yada yada yada….

For a year now, I’ve been saying, “maybe after we get back from Africa we can talk about a hamster.”

Guess what? We’re back from Africa.

My daughter finally had enough money saved (thanks to a big clearance at Petsmart. Sheesh.) I told her when she returned from visiting her grandparents we’d do the deed.

Meanwhile, my other two were chomping at the bit for their own rodent. They talked about pooling birthday money together. Plus, the grandparents got involved by offering odd jobs.

Clearly, there was a conspiracy to make me hold a rodent.

Last week, my mom’s friend called and heard we were looking for a hamster and asked us to take her beloved miniature hamster (with cage, food, accessories). Great, now the world is against me.

Then some hamster drama happened, but I will spare you details. It’s really a long story that ends with every kid in my house owning their very own hamster.

So, let’s review: We went from no hamster (not going to happen-ever) to owning THREE in a week.

God does provide (according to my kids).

I like to think He is wanting to stretch me spiritually.

And also to check this off the proverbial parenting list.

If I close one eye and tilt my head, they are kinda cute.

In a rodent-kind of way.

But I’m still not going to hold one.

P.S. Turns out getting your kids a hamster makes you MOM OF THE YEAR (for the week, at least). Tell me your rodent story…. Yes, I had two “sister” hamsters as a kid that turned out to be a boy and girl and we woke up one day to 12 babies. And then the mom started eating them. I kid you not.

I Miss These Mugs

Just like *that* my older kids are old enough to spend an entire week at my in-laws farm– hundreds of miles away from me.

In my heart, they aren’t nearly 12 and 10 years old, searching for independence, growing up and away from me with each passing day …

I will always see them like this:

I might be a writer, blogger, non-profiteer…but the best job (and hardest) I’ve ever had—-is being a mom.

I miss my kids and will be so happy to get them home this weekend!

How long have you spent away from your kids?

P.S. Seven days is too long.

When It Cost to Be Frugal

I have always loved shopping. But not just any kind–bargain shopping has always been my favorite.

Even when I was a teenager, I would take the $20 my Dad would give me for clothes, go to Goodwill and buy several outfits instead of one at the mall. I was an odd child.

Then I became a youth pastor’s wife and lived on love the first eight years of marriage. I decorated my house from clearance items on the Target end caps.

The past few years, I’ve passed my bargain shopping love down to my kids, my oldest especially. She stretches her dollar and likes to buy on sale. Even though I could pay more for some things, it’s not my preference.

But I’m learning there’s a cost to being frugal.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the words child labor or fair trade.

And now I can’t stop thinking about the image of a skinny, scared, 8 year old boy chained to a chair and a sewing machine.

Making clothes I like to buy cheap.

Now, I’m not saying that every good deal translates into a worker across the globe losing their dignity. I just think we need to be aware that some deals are too good to be fair.

I’m getting an education about fair trade. I’m dipping my feet into the secret world as I try and make sure our products at Mercy House meet the standards and are even fair trade certified.

What is fair trade? It’s shopping fair, really…providing fair, decent wages for the workers who make the items we like to buy.

I have a long way to go. But I think part of the change is awareness. Next, it’s asking these questions:

  • Why is this item so cheap? Is it an end-of-the-season clearance (yay!) or was it made in a sweat shop?
  • Can I buy something similar (like a gift) while also supporting a life in another county?
  • Why not buy less for more? Maybe it’s worth paying a bit more for something I know is fair trade.
  • Educate yourself with information like this from Behind the Label (an inside look into the apparel industry). There are links to retailers who are conscientious about their workers. Sadly, t’s not a long list. This list of brands that have been accused of exploiting workers is startling.

I’m learning so much and I’m the first to admit that I have no idea where many of the items in my home or closets come from.  But I’m trying to educate myself. The main thing is supporting the creative artists in third world countries with a fair amount of money… even when it cost more than buying items cheaply.

Part of this is educating my children…my daughter and I are on a hunt for a fair trade book bag for school. Because it feels good to shop fair and empower someone on the other side of the world.

And now that I know the names and faces and have a relationship with artisans who make fair trade items, I might not be so frugal after all.


WFMW: Vinyl Wall Art

I’ve been a long-time lover of vinyl word art. I have little sayings all over my house.

Have you seen the really big vinyl subway wall art? like this:


I wanted our family room to inspire and so I bought this exact one on Etsy here.

It came in three parts and completely intimidated me, so it sat for weeks because I was afraid to apply it.  I finally got up the nerve using these easy instructions and videos to help me.

My tip for applying large vinyl art: Take your time and make sure it’s centered before you removed the backing. Use masking tape to keep it in place.

Here’s how mine looks:

*my fun colorful blocks were a gift from Dayspring and my vase is inspiration from our Mercy House girls

Anything Good You See in Me {Giveaway}

UPDATED: Congrats to the winners (thanks to

Here are your random numbers:

22	44	41	10

Timestamp: 2011-08-04 18:52:40 UTC

Brenda Torres, Melanie Jordanjennik,  Nanette Lynch


There was a package in the mail addressed to me.

I hadn’t ordered anything.

It was a suprise:

The Adopt Shoppe, one of my sponsors, created this necklace from something I said in this post while I was in Kenya. Is it wrong to wear your own words around your neck? I hope not.

I also love these white leather bangles:

and this lovely cuff:

Yes, please:

There are hundreds of other choices. FOUR lucky readers will win their choice of one of the items above: a tile necklace, leather bangles, metal cuff and Ugandan beads to this fun shop (with a purpose).

Please visit and leave a comment with what you love.